The Democratic National Convention comes to Philadelphia July 25-28, 2016, with all its trappings of political theater: Hillary inspiring the masses (?), Bernie joining her in a heart-warming display of solidarity (?), peaceful crowds politely expressing their disagreements and support (?). But while the Clintons and their dastardly consorts are entertaining audiences at the Wells Fargo Center, options abound for Convention-themed performances without quite as much jingoism and with fewer balloons. Here are some ideas:
Acclaimed local actor Russ Widdall revisits his uncanny take on Robert F. Kennedy, which he performed to great success in several runs of Jack Holmes’s RFK. Written by New City Stage Company artistic director Ginger Dayle, Roseburg sees presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy give a speech on gun control in a small Oregon town two weeks before his assassination. Dayle’s play ties this speech to an event in the same town five decades later, when a student opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College, killing nine.
[Adrienne Theater Second Stage, 2030 Sansom Street] July 9-31, 2016; newcitystage.org/currentseason.html
Electoral Dysfunction at the DNC
An celebrated comedy variety show from NYC hijacks the Democratic Convention with three evenings of jokes and conversation. “We figured if the people of Philadelphia had to put up with politicians, the least we could do was try to make them laugh,” said Electoral Dysfunction creator Tom Brennan. Special guests include Philly playwright Bruce Graham (Funny Man, Rizzo), comedian Shannon Devido (Delco Proper, Difficult People), and comic Darryl Charles & sexologist Dr. Timaree Schmitt (co-hosts of DTF: The Darryl & Timaree Funhour, Philadelphia’s long running sex-ed game show. Plus a special video address by President Barack Obama (as portrayed by The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon’s Dion Flynn).
[The Playground at the Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom Street] July 26-28, 2016; electoraldysfunction.brownpapertickets.com.
Agitated! DNC Edition!
Political scandals and defunct campaigns form the theme for this month’s seletion of live performance curated by Pilar Salt and HoneyTree EvilEye. Agitated! is burlesque, comedy, drag, and theater with meaning. Features Sharp Robert, Paul Severe, Robin Graves, Jenson Titus Lavallee, Manny Lovett, and Christian Crusade.
[Franky Bradley’s, 1320 Chancellor Street] July 27, 2016; facebook.com/events/1936369696589704.
Voices of Voting
Targeted to middle and high school students but open to the general public, Voices of Voting is a short play commissioned by Philadelphia election watchdog Committee of Seventy. Written and directed by David Bradley, it ties the personal struggles and political courage of the 1960s campaign to secure the vote for 18- to 21-year-olds to the present-day challenge of engaging young people in our electoral process. Laced with live music from the award-winning hip-hop/funk/jazz collective Ill Doots.
[Science Leadership Academy, 55 N. 22nd Street] July 25-27, 2016; email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.
Over the course of nearly three years, filmmakers Maria Cuomo Cole and Kim Snyder collected testimonies to tell a story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of school children in American history on December 14, 2012. Newtown documents a traumatized community fractured by grief and driven toward a sense of purpose. Joining the ranks of a growing club to which no one wants to belong, a cast of characters interconnect to weave an intimate story of community resilience.
[Arden Theatre Company, 40 North 2nd Street] July 27, 2016; eventbrite.com/e/newtown-screening-at-the-democratic-national-convention-tickets-26547954647